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The European Commission launched on July 7th, a wide consultation aiming to gather the views of all stakeholders on the future of pensions systems in Europe. Designing EU pension rules is largely a responsibility of Member States.

Through this consultation, the European Commission does not question this competence but it recalls the scope of EU action in the field of pensions.

Commenting on the EC paper on pensions, Leonardo Sforza, head of EU Affairs and Research at Hewitt Associates and Chairman of the EChr scientific committee, said: “this Green Paper and its background documents represent the most comprehensive review made by the Commission on pensions for over a decade. In terms of method, it shows the inter-connection of different policy areas and the importance of an ever closer co-operation among different departments beyond administrative silos. On the substance of future policy direction, it can be instrumental in tackling unfulfilled business expectations on the simplification of cross-border pension arrangements. These gaps some of which could be immediately addressed by improving the transparency, predictability and coherence of statutory requirements ??? continue to undermine the effectiveness and credibility of the European Single Market.”

Leonardo Sforza continued: “The deployment of a more business-friendly regulatory environment for pensions is vital for employees and pensioners and for the competitiveness of the European system. In that respect, the employer’s perspective on the pensioners and for the competitiveness of the European system. In that respect, the employer’s perspective on the subject of costs and the affordability of pension promises merits much greater and thoughtful attention than is currently the case.”

A ‘Green Paper’ is generally a good opportunity for practicing democracy within the EU decision-making process. In particular, it offers all stakeholders beyond just EU bodies and institutional representatives an opportunity to share their views on the issues at stake as well as suggesting possible options for action based on their direct experience. In the context of pensions, such an approach is even more important before adopting new decisions or legislative proposals given the long-lasting impact they may have on people, organisations and individual Member States’ policy responsibilities in the area of retirement provision“.